Our greatest East Coast weakness?
“I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.” Oatcake.
“I think I’ll go for a walk.” Oatcake.
“I’ll go pick up breakfast.” OATCAKE.
During our stay in St. Andrews, we were conveniently close to Honeybeans, a darling little café on the main strip that serves dozens of loose teas, espresso drinks, and, you guessed it, oatcakes. Perhaps this is the point where I should say, “it became a problem,” but I don’t think either of us are prepared to apologize.
Oatcakes are a wonderful mixture of butter, sugar, and oats, among other things. The tradition was brought over with Scottish settlers in the late 1700’s, who used to eat an unsweetened, cracker-like version with their meals; it was their staple carbohydrate. Over the centuries, new interpretations of the classic oatcake emerged, resulting in variations ranging from sweet to savoury, crunchy to soft. The oatcakes we became accustomed to in New Brunswick were a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and buttery, with a texture somewhere between chewy cookie, biscuit, and shortbread. Fortunately, the ones we had from Honeybeans were just savoury enough we could justify eating them for breakfast.
As soon as we had access to a kitchen, we made this recipe, one I acquired years ago from an unknown or forgotten source.
You can eat them with cheese, jam, or dip them in chocolate, but these dear little cakes must be paired with tea—if you’re in the area, a cream earl grey from Honeybeans would be perfection!
There will be more oatcake adventures; we will be sure to keep you posted.
Maritime Oat Cakes
• 3 cups of rolled oats
• 3 cups flour
• ½ cup brown sugar
• ½ tsp salt (or more, depending on your preference for salt)
• ½ tsp baking soda
• 2 cups unsalted butter (or shortening)
• ½ cup cold water
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter or work it in with hands, until the dough is mixed. Moisten with cold water. Roll, not too thick, using rolled oats on the board to prevent from sticking. Cut into desired shapes. Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 6-7 dozen.